Science Says: Better to Be A Boy Than A Girl

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Jamie Reidy

Jamie Reidy is a writer and Propecia "before" model. His new book A Walk's As Good As A Hit: Advice/Threats from My Old Man is a collection of funny essays about him and his father. His second book Bachelor 101: Cooking + Cleaning = Closing is a cookbook/lifestyle guide for clueless single guys just like him. His book Hard Sell: Now a Major Motion Picture LOVE and OTHER DRUGS
in which Jake Gyllenhaal played "Jamie."


  1. I generally hold the policy of ignoring science journalism and looking up the actual studies cited, because generally things get misread or extrapolated too far.
    This example from NPR is one of the less sloppy examples of science journalism. It didn’t diverge too far from the journal article it cited (titled “Microbial Exposure During Early Life Has Persistent Effects on Natural Killer T Cell Function”) in describing the article.
    I’m having a hard time trying to decide if Mr. Reidy is criticizing Ms. Shute for including the concluding extension citing a different NPR interview about a different study instead of staying focused on the “Microbial Exposure…” article, or if he sincerely believes that Ms. Shute cited the “Microbial Exposure…” article in discussing gender differences in autoimmune diseases (Ms. Shute did not, in fact, cite the “Microbial Exposure…” article).
    If his intention was the latter, maybe he’d like to comment on the NPR interview Ms. Shute cited instead of jumping to the conclusion of journalistic bias???

  2. Jamie Reidy says:

    Hey, Jeff! Thanks for reading, and even more sO for taking the time to comment.

    I was actually just being a wiseass about “gender bias.”

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      I doubt there is a gender side to this. These immune changes are concluded LONG before sex hormones show up. I know it is tempting to go there, but the science does not back it up. Let boys be boys, let girls be girls. By the time children are old enough for socialization, expectations, and so forth, their immune system is mature.

      I love dirty boys who are dirty, and I love girls who are dirty, and I love boys who are clean, and I love gilrs who are clean, and I love that hygiene theroy has nothing to say about any of it!

  3. no gender bias… the study seems legit though. Let the kids play, and build up a strong, battle-tested immune system…

  4. Tom Brechlin says:

    I’ve been saying for years that I feel this germ phobic attitude is not good for kids. Being exposed to germs allows your body to develop antibodies to fight off infections. The body is amazing and it works to survive.

    Boys are simply more apt to play in dirt. While Annie is playing tea time with her dolls on the patio, Jimmy is throwing mud at her. When I see people incessantly wiping a kids face, I wonfer if the kid is ever exposed to anything.

  5. Anthony Zarat says:

    Hygine theory is gaining increasing acceptance:

    * Children born in farms have virtually zero allergy and asthma — and much lower incidence of auto-immune diseases.

    * Children raised in very clearn and/or steril environments have the opposite outcomes (increased allergy, asthma, and auto-immune diseases).

    Keep in mind that auto-immune damage plays a role in heart disease and some cancers. This is important stuff. Dirt and non-pathogenic bacteria (the kind that exists all around us in a normal, non-sterile environment) is an essencial part of the development of the immune system.

    However, the picture that accompanies this article is very deceptive. These changes all occur in the first two years of life. The boy pictured above is out of the sensitivity window, as it is currently understood in hygine theory.

    If you are thining to yourself “why don’t I know this”, my answer is, the home-hygine product industry speaks louder than scientists and health care experts. They want to sell you home-sterilization as a “good parnet” duty, and people are buying the BS, and hurting their children.

    Just let toddlers run around in a grassy area (park/backyard). Your children will know what to do. Avoid for big-seed trees like Hickory (pig-nuts can be choking hazards). Other than that, let the kids stick whatever they want into their mouths.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      By the way, one reason hygiene theory was slow to gain acceptance is that, early on, it was known by a confusing collection of different names. This has changed. If you google “hygiene theory” or “hygiene hypothesis” you will find numerous modern studies (and a wiki article). This is significantly past the “proposed” point. It is broadly accepted. As a parent, I have no doubts. My sons were both grass eaters as toddlers (even though I have a giant pig-nut Hickory tree in my backyard, curse my luck!)

Speak Your Mind